"Restorative practices is a social science that studies how to improve and repair relationships between people and communities. The purpose is to build healthy communities, increase social capital, decrease crime and antisocial behavior, repair harm and restore relationships."
- International Institute of Restorative Practices
Restorative practices represent a paradigm shift from traditional punitive approaches to addressing harm to an approach that focuses on healing and restoration by allowing the impacted parties to determine how to address the harm and how amends can be made.
Restorative practices empower those who have experienced harm by giving them the opportunity to share about impact of that harm, while simultaneously giving the individual who caused the harm to be accountable, expressing remorse and making amends as needed.
Participation in a Restorative Circle requires voluntary agreement on the part of each participant. All impacted parties are invited to attend and bring support. A trained facilitator prepares all participants in advance. During the Restorative Circle, the facilitator creates the space for the restorative conversation, encouraging each participant to share their experience of what happened, the impact of the harm, what can be done to make amends and how future harm may be prevented. Participants then complete an agreement to abide by decisions agreed to in the Circle.
Restorative programs have been used successfully in schools, criminal justice systems, social service organizations and communities throughout the world. Studies of Restorative Practices used in the criminal justice system show reduced recidivism, greater community safety, greater satisfaction for victims and offender, and more effective use of community resources.
Studies of Restorative Practices used in schools indicate that these practices have the power to transform academic and social cultures in the school setting by improving relationships between and among students and teachers, building sense of community, preventing bullying and decreasing risky behaviors among students.
Circle Up offers training for individuals to incorporate Restorative Practices in diverse areas, including: schools, workplaces, voluntary victim/offender reconciliation, and the criminal justice system.